Frequently Asked Questions
What is Worbla?
Worbla is the brand name for a line of easy to use thermoplastics popular in costuming, crafting and theatre.
Worbla’s Finest Art was the first product, and if someone mentions just “Worbla” on its own, they usually mean Finest Art. Finest Art is a brown, opaque thermoplastic made from renewable natural raw materials, with an inherent adhesive and zero waste.
Worbla’s TranspArt is a transparent thermoplastic with incredible flexibility and resiliency that is chemically stable (not damaged by solvents).
Worbla’s Black Art is made entirely from plastics, and was created to give a smoother finished surface and greater fine detail in sculpting than Finest Art.
What are the differences between Worbla’s TranspArt, Black Art and Finest Art?
Worbla’s Finest Art (Sometimes shortened to WFA or Worbla) is highly moldable and activates at 90C and can be shaped easily by hand.
Worbla’s TranspArt is more resilient and can be more difficult/require more patience to work with. While it can be worked by hand, gloves are strongly recommended as it activates at 120C. TranspArt does not have the same adhesive as Finest Art as well, so glue is suggested to join parts.
Worbla’s Finest Art is opaque and used for sculpture, armor, jewelry, props, masks and many other things. TranspArt is clear and has been designed for creating clear casts of items, as well as creating things such as gems, casings for LED lights, visors, and other applications for a clear plastic.
Worbla’s Black Art has almost all of the same properties as Finest Art, but with slightly less adhesion, a longer working time, and the ability to take much finer detail do to the smoother surface. It also requires far less work to smooth before painting.
What tools do you use?
Worbla products can be cut with regular scissors, drawn on with pen or marker, sanded, hot glued and painted with anything from acrylics to spraypaint. To shape Worbla’s Finest Art and Black Art, a heat gun is the best tool but hot water, steam, or your oven can also be used. To cut relief designs a hot knife is recommended, though power tools such as a dremmel can also be used. For Worbla’s TranspArt, a heat gun or oven are necessary, and a soldering iron can be useful for cutting designs or etching into the plastic.
Where can I buy Worbla?
Check out our where to buy page.
What is the difference between Worbla’s Finest Art and Wonderflex?
Wonderflex is thicker and has a fabric-style grain to one side of the plastic, which can take longer to finish. Worbla is thin and has no grain. Worbla can stretch and flex more than Wonderflex, and handles complex curves much easier, but is more brittle when stretched and can tear when heated or snapped in half when cool. Wonderflex can be used without needing support from multiple layers or craft foam to support itself, where Worbla may need to be layered to create the same effect. Worbla is often considered faster to work with, and Wonderflex is natively stronger, but for most projects either can be used successfully. Worbla is best for making small designs smoothly, as the grain in Wonderflex becomes more noticeable when stretching and working on a small scale, and Worbla scraps can be heated and reconditioned (mushed back together) so that there is nearly no waste. Many cosplayers have a preference to one or the other: there is no wrong choice.
How do you attach Worbla?
To attach Worbla’s Finest Art or Black Art to itself, the natural adhesive activates when it is heated. Simply press two heated pieces together to attach them – always heat both sides. You can also use hot glue, or epoxy-type glues, when the pieces are cool. For Worbla’s TranspArt, you can fuse edges with a soldering iron, or use clear, solvent-free glues such as crazy glue to join pieces.
To attach finished pieces to costumes such as leg armor or shoulder pauldrons, you can use Velcro, leather strapping, and Earth magnets.
How durable is Worbla? Can I use it for Airsoft or LARP?
There’s no specific tensile rating for Worbla. It works extremely well for costume purposes, but we do not know how well Worbla would take that sort of impact damage. If you are designing something to take blows, keep padding in mind and consider building your pieces off of thicker foam first.
In addition, Ruth, who runs Alhazreds Ghost blog has offered this advice on Worbla’s Finest Art for LARP:
Very basically, if you do it right and avoid a couple of pitfalls, Worbla LARP armour can be fun to make, not overly expensive, completely personalised, and relatively easy to repair if something doesn’t go as planned.
Worbla is flexible, but can become brittle if that flexibility is removed. It’s also quite thin, which means that larger structures need to be supported to make them workable, which then removes a lot of that flexibility.
I would advise you to stay away from making large or flat structures such as helmets or breastplates, as these may crack or split if shock-loaded with weight (i.e., when you fall on them, or when struck hard), and this could lead to potential injury. If you’re confident that you can create something safely, feel free to give it a go, but I’d personally avoid it, and stick to smaller pieces like bracers and greaves, or using the Worbla for constructing scale or splint mail.
Please note we currently have no data on how durable Worbla’s TranspArt is, though it should be similar to Finest Art.
How strong is Worbla? Can I use it to build a very large prop?
Worbla is strong, but is not made to support weight in itself and can snap if too much weight is placed on one area. If you need to make something large you are best to use a core of foam or pvc to support the weight. Large, long props or accessories that need to hang from a point on your costume will need a large base of support, or the weight will make the plastic bend.
What sort of foam can you use under Worbla’s Finest Art and Black Art?
For the sandwich and backing methods many people use foam sheets you find in craft stores – usually called fun foam, craft foam or foamies. You can also use thicker foams – such as what yoga mats or garage flooring are made of, often called EVA foam. You can also use the hard pink insulation foam, or expanding aresol foam, and carve shapes that you then cover with Worbla for additional strength and rigidity.
Sandwich method? What is that?
Worbla’s Finest Art and Black Art, if shaped by hand completely, can end up uneven or lumpy. A way of keeping it smooth is to back it with a thin sheet of foam. For extra strength, sometimes the foam is sandwiched between two pieces of Worbla, especially useful for pieces that will be under high stress. We have a tutorial explaining the process here. You can also use a method called the folding method, or combine both, depending on the strength you need and your budget for the project.
How much should I buy?
The best way to see how much you need is to make your pattern first. Then you lay your pieces out as close as possible together, measuring around them to see how small a sheet they will all fit onto. Remember if you’re sandwiching you’ll need double the amount. A visual guide is available here.
Can I take Worbla into the pool? Lake? Sea?
Well, that depends on several factors. Worbla itself is fine in water, though it’s suggested you rinse your pieces off afterwords to remove salt/chlorine. If your Worbla is wrapped around foam with open areas (such as the folding method) then you may have more issues with the foam reacting to the chlorine/salt water, and remember that your paint will be what is the most affected by the water. Make sure your paint is waterproof and well sealed.
Can I use Worbla for an Aquarium? Pond? Garden display?
Worbla hasn’t been tested for long-term underwater use, but we expect that it will behave as most plastics do. It’s suggested that Worbla Black be used for water features, as it is less porous than Worbla’s Finest Art. All Worbla products are generally safe for the outdoors, though Wonderflex is suggested for pieces that may be left to the elements for very long periods of time.
Will Worbla melt in the sun/desert/really hot day/at my LARP/on Mars?
Worbla products will manage the heat of outdoors no matter how hot, though it can get a bit soft in extreme temperatures and cosplayers in extreme heat for extended periods of time have reported large props or pieces starting to ‘sag’. Often people have more issue with their attachments – the hot glue they used to adhere velcro or strapping, becoming too soft and pulling away in extreme heat. You must not store your Worbla in a car, or inside a tent in the sun, as it will begin to soften or warp completely. (A car can reach an indoor temp of 80C in the sun, and Worbla’s Finest Art activates at 90C. This is close enough to soften Worbla, and if it is weighed down it will shift and warp, or stick to itself.)
Can I attach Worbla to metal/wood/foam/fabric/leather/bone?
Yes. Worbla products can be joined to any material. The natural adhesive in Worbla’s Finest Art or Black Art may be enough, but using a glue is strongly suggested. Contact Cement, barge-type glues and epoxies all work well. Always test your glue on both materials and follow safety instructions.
Worbla’s TranspArt does not have similar self adhesive. Solvent free glues such as Cyanoacrylates / Krazy glue work best, especially to maintain clarity.
Is Worbla toxic?
All of Worbla’s Product Line are Non Toxic. However, Worbla products are not meant to be used for mouth appliances. If you need to build something like a bite guard for a costume, use friendly plastic.
Can Worbla be laser cut?
Yes! Worbla’s Finest Art is similar to a wax, and cuts using commercial laser cutters well. You’ll need to test to see what settings work best for you. For example, Volpin Props has cut Worbla with his machine and shared the details here.
Worbla’s TranspArt can be cut with a laser cutter, as shown here by Last Minute Man’s Kitchen.
We do not yet have examples of Worbla’s Black Art being laser cut, but the process is the same.
Do you have MSDS sheets for Worbla Products?
Yes, please email Amanda@worbla.com for the MSDS sheets.
Do you have other questions? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org